Heroes AIDS Project is a national HIV/AIDS initiative launched in July 2004 to work with media organizations and societal leaders in India. It seeks to develop coordinated campaigns to address the spread of HIV/AIDS and reduce stigma and discrimination by influencing public perception and policy through two platforms: advocacy and communications.
The project had its beginning in a fund raising event for pediatric AIDS organized by Mrs. Parmeshwar Godrej called ‘A Time for Heroes, India’. The event, held in December ’02 was hugely successful and brought together Indian media, entertainment and business houses which committed to use their combined strength to advocate on issues related to HIV/AIDS.
India, with its population of over one billion people, requires timely and sustained intervention in the area of HIV/AIDS. Heroes AIDS Project aims to harness India’s communication power by converting the passion and ideals of a small but powerful core of concerned individuals into tangible actions by the government and public in India. The Project seeks to advocate with the Indian government to strengthen existing methods of information distribution; and create a range of communication materials to complement advocacy and media initiatives so that the public is connected to important HIV/AIDS related services.
In line with this objective, the Project announced its first public education partnership with Star Television Network in July ‘04. Public Service messages featuring cricket star Rahul Dravid talking about HIV prevention and supporting people living with AIDS, began to appear across the country on Star’s many television properties. On World AIDS Day ‘04, new messages with Bollywood’s biggest star, Amitabh Bachchan, began airing across various channels as part of phase two of the campaign.
With the support of the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Project organized an Entertainment Television Summit (ETS) in May 2005 as a follow-up to the Media Leaders Summit. In order to address the need for greater creativity and sustainability in messaging, the event brought together leading executives and creative personnel from Indian television and counterparts from the US to discuss ways to successfully imbed content on HIV/AIDS in television programs.
In October 2005 an Entertainment Television Summit (ETS) for the South was held in Hyderabad that thirty-five executives from television channels and production houses attended.
Till 2007 HP conducted numerous briefings attended by over five hundred people from networks and production houses as Star One, Doordarshan, Zee, Radaan Mediaworks (I) Ltd., and MAA TV. The briefings united doctors, lawyers and PLWHA with creative and administrative personnel in an effort to explore embedding HIV storylines into their programming. Over the year 2007, more than fifty-five television shows and fifteen radio shows carried HIV/AIDS embedded messages.
In collaboration with STAR TV, the Project’s PSAs directed viewers to an SMS facility that provided them with basic information about HIV/AIDS. A total of 379,522 text messages had been received as of May 2007.
Twenty-eight television PSAs and numerous radio PSAs productions and around 29000 times their airing across various media networks later, Heroes AIDS Project is the largest non-governmental media campaign garnering nearly fifty-percent of the media exposure on HIV/AIDS in India.